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At the Court of the Borgia, Being an Account of the Reign of Pope… (1888)

by Johann Burchard

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A judicious selection from the diaries of Johann Burchard, focusing on the reign of Pope Alexander VI. This was the Borgia Pope and the lives and times of the Borgias provide an entry into the world of the Renaissance. An intimate history with fascinating details and flaws as well. ( )
  jwhenderson | May 25, 2022 |
This is a record of the time of the Borgia Pope, Alexander VI, written by his master of ceremonies John Burchard. Set during the late 15th century in Renaissance Italy, this is the story of one of the most dissolute, corrupt, and power-hungry Popes to have ever been recorded. Burchard is for the most part unemotional and matter of fact in his account, though often he shies away from recording the worst details, and records much of the scandal rather as if it was nothing out of the ordinary. This Folio Society edition has been abridged to remove some of the less interesting matters which Burchard was concerned with day to day, including precedencies during processions and ceremonial protocol, though these are the only things that really get him wound up in what he has recorded here.
What is left is fairly readable, and interesting from an historical and cultural point of view, also the occasional battle, poisoning, strangulation, scheme, and political wranglings keep things interesting. Alexander the VI wanted to strengthen and expand a Borgia dynasty to rule Italy, and as Pope he did this by appointing his family as Cardinals and Bishops, and promoting their marriage into the ruling families within Italy, Spain, and France who were fighting over regions of Italy including Naples at this time. To do this he had to out-manoeuvre his rivals, frequently change allegiances, and wage wars primarily for his own family’s gain, though under the auspices of the Church.
This is a fascinating, and as far as I am aware unique account of the fierce political situation in Renaissance Europe, particularly in the rise and downfall of a powerful and ruthless family. It will be of interest for those with an interest in history and politics, as well as for its behind-the-scenes tales of dirty dealings. ( )
  P_S_Patrick | Jan 27, 2019 |
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